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Topographer Royal

William Vaughan, 1 May 1980

The Diary of Joseph Farington RA: Vols V and VI (1 August 1801-31 December 1804) 
edited by Kenneth Garlick.
Yale (for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art), 447 pp., £15, October 1979, 0 300 02418 5
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... the startling fantasist Fuseli were at the height of their powers, and that embarrassing outsider William Blake was issuing book after book of illuminated prophecy. Farington himself was not a major participant in this rich flowering: his meticulous, straight-laced art belongs more to an earlier age. But he was a great observer. Although the diary has been ...

Hitler and History

Hans Keller, 5 February 1981

Hitler 
by Norman Stone.
Hodder, 195 pp., £6.95, August 1980, 0 340 24980 3
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Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ in Britain and America: A Publishing History 1930-39 
by James Barnes and Patience Barnes.
Cambridge, 158 pp., £8.50, September 1980, 0 521 22691 0
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The Berlin Secession: Modernism and Its Enemies in Imperial Germany 
by Peter Paret.
Harvard, 262 pp., £10.50, December 1980, 0 674 06773 8
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German Romantic Painting 
by William Vaughan.
Yale, 260 pp., £19.95, October 1980, 0 300 02387 1
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... has a specific history in German Romanticism. It is a delusion which Peter Paret and especially William Vaughan are quite ready to take for reality, while Norman Stone’s own dreams about ‘the positive qualities of Hitler, his real achievements’ (thus Professor J.H. Plumb’s Introduction) aid and abet it: if Hitler was some sort of genius, he is ...

At the British Museum

Peter Campbell: Samuel Palmer’s dream landscapes, 17 November 2005

... Through Linnell, who was his friend and patron and later his father-in-law, Palmer met William Blake. It was the light of Blake and of the old prints Linnell pointed him towards – in particular those of Dürer, Lucas van Leyden and Bonasone – that showed Palmer the path out of the pit of modernity. Palmer and his friends, meeting together in ...

His Own Sort of Outsider

Philip Clark: Tippett’s Knack, 16 July 2020

Michael Tippett: The Biography 
by Oliver Soden.
Weidenfeld, 750 pp., £25, April 2019, 978 1 4746 0602 8
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... Yet he was also the natural outsider in a scene that as well as Britten (born 1913), included William Walton (1902) and Lennox Berkeley (1903), with the reassuring presence of Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872) hovering over them all. Whether Tippett ever entered the pantheon, or even deserves to, remains an open question ...

How the sanity of poets can be edited away

Arnold Rattenbury: The Sanity of Ivor Gurney, 14 October 1999

‘Severn and Somme’ and ‘War’s Embers’ 
by Ivor Gurney, edited by R.K.R. Thornton.
Carcanet, 152 pp., £7.95, September 1997, 1 85754 348 3
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80 Poems or So 
by Ivor Gurney, edited by George Walter and R.K.R. Thornton.
Carcanet, 148 pp., £9.95, January 1997, 1 85754 344 0
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... But there were moments of real conversation and he spoke of real grievances,’ Adeline Vaughan Williams wrote after one of many visits with her husband, Gurney’s one-time teacher of composition, admirer and longstanding advocate. My own hunch is that other Gurney personae usually written off as lunatic fictions – Michael Flood, Frederick ...

Golf Grips and Swastikas

William Feaver: Francis Bacon’s Litter, 26 February 2009

Francis Bacon: Incunabula 
edited by Martin Harrison and Rebecca Daniels.
Thames and Hudson, 224 pp., £39.95, September 2008, 978 0 500 09344 3
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... Originally (though Harrison and Daniels do not say so) this read: ‘wartime romances: William Feaver recalls a trend in English painting that flourished in the 1940s’. Bruce Bernard, then the Sunday Times Magazine picture editor, and I had spent weeks picking the images for an article on the neo-romantic insularity of such artists as Graham ...

Just a smack at Grigson

Denis Donoghue, 7 March 1985

Montaigne’s Tower, and Other Poems 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 72 pp., £5.95, October 1984, 0 436 18806 6
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Collected Poems: 1963-1980 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 557 3
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The Faber Book of Reflective Verse 
edited by Geoffrey Grigson.
Faber, 238 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 571 13299 5
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 279 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 558 1
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 9780850315592
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Before the Romantics: An Anthology of the Enlightenment 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Salamander, 349 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 907540 59 7
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... much that France still offers. There are writers he likes, most of them dead: Ronsard, John Clare, William Barnes (‘love of whose poems seems to me a litmus paper of the genuine’), Auden (‘the greatest of my contemporaries’), George Herbert, Vaughan, Crabbe, Hopkins, Whitman, Campion, Morris, Christina Rossetti, John ...

Happy Bunnies

John Pemble: Cousin Marriage, 25 February 2010

Incest and Influence: The Private Life of Bourgeois England 
by Adam Kuper.
Harvard, 296 pp., £20.95, November 2009, 978 0 674 03589 8
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... treason just as, a hundred years earlier, it dealt privately with the pederasty of Charles Vaughan. In 1859 Vaughan, headmaster of Harrow, suddenly left in order to accept a much lower-profile job as vicar of Doncaster. Not until 1964, when Phyllis Grosskurth published her biography of John Addington Symonds, was it ...

Degradation, Ugliness and Tears

Mary Beard: Harrow School, 7 June 2001

A History of Harrow School 
by Christopher Tyerman.
Oxford, 599 pp., £30, October 2000, 0 19 822796 5
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... celebrated headmasters suddenly, and for no obvious reason, resigned his job. The Rev. Charles Vaughan had taken charge at Harrow in 1845, when the school was close to collapse. There were just 69 boys on the roll (many of whom were seriously in debt to the local loan shark); even by Victorian standards the boys’ lodgings were a health hazard, with not ...

Let’s to billiards

Stephen Walsh: Constant Lambert, 22 January 2015

Constant Lambert: Beyond the Rio Grande 
by Stephen Lloyd.
Boydell, 584 pp., £45, March 2014, 978 1 84383 898 2
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... the greatest symphonist since Beethoven, had no interest in folksong (though he studied with Vaughan Williams and liked and respected him), adored jazz for its virtuosity and instrumental sound but had little patience with most of the so-called symphonic jazz of the 1920s. The key to this apparent ragbag of a pantheon is that Lambert had come to music ...

False Brought up of Nought

Thomas Penn: Henry VII’s Men on the Make, 27 July 2017

Henry VII’s New Men and the Making of Tudor England 
by Steven Gunn.
Oxford, 393 pp., £60, August 2016, 978 0 19 965983 8
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... surrounded himself with new men who had proved their loyalty to him and his family: warriors like William Hastings, who went from mere gentleman to lord in a matter of months, and the Welshman Sir William Herbert, who became earl of Pembroke; and administrators like Thomas Montgomery, the medical doctor ...

Cantles

Frank Kermode, 17 June 1982

A Moving Target 
by William Golding.
Faber, 202 pp., £8.95, May 1982, 0 571 11822 4
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... William Golding is evidently a bit fed up with being the author of Lord of the Flies. It was greeted with proper applause when it came out in 1954, but soon became the livre de chevet of American youth, and, worse, a favoured text in the classroom in the years of the great boom in Eng Lit, when a sterile popular variety of the New Criticism was encouraging all manner of dreary foolishness; whereupon the cognoscenti turned away, and called the book naive ...
Friends of Promise: Cyril Connolly and the World of ‘Horizon’ 
by Michael Shelden.
Hamish Hamilton, 254 pp., £15.95, February 1989, 0 241 12647 9
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Coastwise Lights 
by Alan Ross.
Collins Harvill, 254 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 00 271767 0
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William Plomer 
by Peter Alexander.
Oxford, 397 pp., £25, March 1989, 0 19 212243 6
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... voices of the time. During or just after the last war it was Connolly and Koestler and Spender, William Plomer, Alun Lewis, Dylan Thomas, Peter Quennell. Some still have life or fame or both, some not: but then, not now, was their moment. Was Connolly himself any good as a writer? The question means little because the point of Connolly turned out to be ...

Heat in a Mild Climate

James Wood: Baron Britain of Aldeburgh, 19 December 2013

Benjamin Britten: A Life in the 20th Century 
by Paul Kildea.
Allen Lane, 635 pp., £30, January 2013, 978 1 84614 232 1
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Benjamin Britten: A Life for Music 
by Neil Powell.
Hutchinson, 512 pp., £25, January 2013, 978 0 09 193123 0
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... later, ‘a consciously controlled professional technique. It was a struggle away from everything Vaughan Williams seemed to stand for.’ Vaughan Williams taught composition at the RCM, but Britten bypassed him anyway. Since the age of 14 he had been having lessons with Frank Bridge; his mother would take him to London in ...

Full-Employment Utopias

Christopher Hill, 16 July 1981

Utopia and the Ideal Society: A Study of English Utopian Writing, 1516-1700 
by J.C. Davis.
Cambridge, 427 pp., £25, March 1981, 0 521 23396 8
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Science and Society in Restoration England 
by Michael Hunter.
Cambridge, 232 pp., £18.50, March 1981, 0 521 22866 2
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... as more significant ‘utopians’ than has been recognised. Dr Davis is also interesting on William Sprigge’s A Modest Plea for an Equal Commonwealth of 1659, the anonymous Chaos (1659) and The Free State of Noland (1696), which he classifies as ‘Harringtonian’. He has even found a couple of Royalist utopias, which he discusses in Chapter ...

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